Saturday, January 16, 2021

Suspected Israeli strikes ‘kill 23 Syrian soldiers and allied fighters’

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Israeli night raids targeting arms depots and military positions in eastern Syria killed at least seven Syrian soldiers and 16 allied fighters, in the deadliest raids this year, an activist group said on Wednesday.

The Israeli air force carried out more than 18 strikes against multiple targets in an area stretching from the eastern town of Deir Ezzor to the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The raids killed seven Syrian soldiers and 16 non-Syrian militia fighters whose nationalities were not immediately known, the UK-based group said.

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Paramilitaries belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah movement and the Fatimid Brigade, which is made up of pro-Iranian Afghan fighters, operate in the region, the Observatory said. 

The Syrian state news agency Sana reported the strikes but gave few details.

“At 1:10am, the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial assault on the town of Deir Ezzor and the Albu Kamal region,” Sana said, citing a military source.

“The results of the aggression are currently being verified,” it added.

Hundreds of strikes

The strikes were the second wave of Israeli raids in Syria in less than a week, AFP reported.

The last strikes on 7 January targeted positions in southern Syria and in the southern outskirts of the capital Damascus, killing three pro-Iran fighters.

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Israel routinely carries out raids in Syria, mostly against targets linked to Iran in what it says is a bid to prevent Tehran from consolidating a foothold on its northern border.

Israel hit around 50 targets in Syria in 2020, according to an annual report released in late December by the Israeli military. 

Israel has carried out hundreds of air and missile strikes on Syria since the country’s civil war broke out in 2011, targeting Iranian and Hezbollah forces, as well as Syrian government troops.

Israel rarely acknowledges individual strikes but has done so when responding to what it describes as aggression inside Israeli territory.

The war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more since it erupted after the brutal repression of anti-government protests nearly a decade ago.

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